Global AIDS Fund Must Be Effectively Managed, Adequately Funded to Have Impact, Columnists Warn
"The battle against AIDS needs new resources. It does not need a new bureaucracy," Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland writes, warning that the emerging international effort against the disease "must be effectively administered from the outset." While developing nations need "significant international help" to fight the epidemic, such aid must come with "focus, discipline and a hard-nosed realism that has too often been absent in the help industrial nations have extended to needy nations in the past," Hoagland says. He cites two "dangers" associated with international aid: first, that those countries now promising assistance will not come through, and second, that "they will deliver, only to see haste again make waste." Though U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan's "heart is as usual in the right place" with his proposed $7 billion to $10 billion "war chest," his plan for an administrative body within the United Nations to manage the fund "will delay and complicate things." Rather, Hoagland suggests that money management be handled by the World Bank's International Development Association, which already provides some $600 million in "heavily discounted loans" to developing nations to fight AIDS. Hoagland also backs the idea, proposed last month by French Finance Minister Laurent Fabius, of authorizing the IDA to distribute AIDS-fighting funds in the form of grants, rather than loans -- a "creative step" that would "overcome lingering national resistance to outside help" (Hoagland, Washington Post, 5/17).
Does Fighting AIDS Mean Ignoring 'Fiscal Discipline'?
Writing in a Time.com piece, columnist Tony Karon notes, "Responding effectively to the AIDS crisis requires something of a paradigm shift in economic thinking." Karon explains that today's "economic orthodoxy" requires that developing nations show "fiscal discipline" as a "precondition for aid and investment" by wealthier nations. Such discipline requires that a state "continually slash its spending." But AIDS "is a full frontal challenge to fiscal discipline," as spending billions to keep "poor people alive is not, by any banker's measure, a sound investment." In addition, Karon notes, President Bush's move last week to invest just $200 million in the proposed U.N. fund to fight AIDS is itself "fiscally disciplined, to be sure," but he adds, "[I]f the world's richest country puts aside an amount so small relative to its means, the global AIDS war chest is unlikely to come anywhere near its fundraising targets." Karon concludes by warning that "if the global campaign against AIDS is rendered ineffectual by under-funding, then whatever money is actually spent would ultimately have been wasted" (Karon, Time.com, 5/15).